It doesn’t have to be over at “the end!”
Joy E. Held
Readers are precious. They should be treated with appreciation and some fun ways to relate to your books! Writing the best book possible is a first step in cultivating a lasting relationship with readers, but what else can we do to encourage this special commodity to remain engaged with our books beyond the last word on the last page? Most authors don’t type “The End” when the story is over because they would like to remain connected to a reader beyond the satisfying conclusion of the plot.
Yes, marketing is important, but this is not book marketing.
Yes, publicity is important, but this is not book publicity.
Yes, promotions are important, but this is not book promotions.
These are ways to foster relationships (hopefully, happy, long-term ones) with readers and methods to share behind-the-scenes information, research, author details, and content that goes beyond a Facebook page or website. Having said what this is not, these ideas could easily improve your status as an author thereby becoming a sort of marketing, publicity, and promotions technique.
Absolutely go on social media to market, publicize, and promote the book, but including any of the following jewels of engagement for readers is sure to keep your book and persona top-of-mind when they are shopping, sharing, and posting book reviews.
Here are five great ways to extend reader engagement with your book. They will
- increase the amount of time and effort a reader devotes to your work
- encourage more thought on the topics you write about
- expand their knowledge about you or other elements of the book
- create a deeper bond between author and reader
This can lead to future sales, positive word-of-mouth recommendations, and better reviews. Win-win-win!
The book is written, edited, polished, published, and it’s in the reader’s hands! Mission accomplished, right? Mostly, but can you increase a reader’s enjoyment by giving them opportunities to go further with your story? Yes! Let’s look at five ways to extend reader engagement with your books.
The five ways to increase reader engagement include:
- Internet scavenger hunt
- Puzzles, games, and quizzes
- Members-only bonus content
- Reading discussion guides
Internet Scavenger Hunt
Internet scavenger hunts are a fun way to involve readers in your book’s ideas and improve traffic to your website. The sky is the limit for how to create an internet scavenger hunt, but an important element is the payoff. Besides learning more about your book, there must be some sort of ‘prize’ at the conclusion of the hunt. The simplest process for this is to enter finalists (those who complete the hunt and submit their answers by the deadline) into a special drawing for a gift card or tangible incentive item like a custom-made t-shirt.
Start by having a page or blog on your author website and social media accounts devoted to the scavenger hunt with instructions, items to locate, and the submission deadline. You might want to create a Google form for this with instructions and places for players to submit their finds. If you wanted to get fancy, you could create a Facebook page (public or private is up to you) dedicated to the internet scavenger hunts associated with your publications and have seekers post their answers and adventures there. It doesn’t matter how many readers participate and answer all the clues because you’re having a drawing at the conclusion to determine the prize winner.
One idea for creating an internet scavenger hunt associated with your book is to walk readers through some of the websites you visited during the research portion of writing your story. Did you do an actual in-person visit of places in the book or were you inspired to write the book by someplace you visited? Online links to these websites help readers understand all the work an author puts into a book. They will appreciate your research and be better able to visualize scenes in the book after visiting the links. At each website, remember to have the reader collect and report something specific from the site as part of the hunt.
Also, the overachievers among us could design and provide a downloadable internet scavenger hunt worksheet with all the deets in a single, printable document. Teachers love assigning virtual information hunts to their students as a fun way to develop data collection and research skills. Visit LessonPlanet.com for examples of virtual scavenger hunts then adapt them to your book’s content.
Puzzles, Games, and Quizzes
Play is learning! You can increase your readers’ focus on your book by creating crossword or word search puzzles with names, topics, places, details, etc. from the book. There are websites where you can create interactive online puzzles or downloadable documents that readers can print out and complete. Extend the interest by encouraging players to post pictures of their completed puzzles on social media. This is another opportunity for a contest drawing for a small prize. A search online for free crossword/word search puzzles will net several easy-to-navigate sources. Super Teacher Worksheets is my go-to for creating customized puzzles.
Are there any games, activities, or hobbies mentioned in your book? Share with readers the research or Pinterest board you created about them. What is the history of it? Are you a fan yourself? Is there an interactive site online about the game? Could you design and create a game using the characters in your book? This content can also be fashioned into easy quizzes to share on your reader group/street team social media sites and in your newsletter. For an amazingly simple to use website for creating all this fun, engaging play visit Flippity. Bookmark it! You can thank me later😊
Curate a collection of songs and share the link with readers who will enjoy the mash-up of music that reminds them of the people, places, ideas, things, and more in your book. Did you personally listen to a particular type of music while “composing” your book? Share it. Does music play any part in your book? Share it. Does one of your characters have a crush on a particular music artist? Share it. Create a playlist of some of the popular songs from the year or time your novel is set. Nonfiction authors can do all this too. Amazon and Spotify make this super easy to do.
For many of my online courses such as “50+ Ways to Leave Your Muse: Creativity Hacks for Writers” I supply a link to a song that relates to the content of each lesson. At the end of the course, students listen to and analyze Paul Simon’s 1976 hit “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” It’s a fun way to make the learning stick.
Here’s my playlist at Amazon for the course
Members Only Bonus Content
Don’t throw away anything while writing a book! Everything is fair game for creating bonus content to share in a newsletter or private social media groups where your readers are eager to learn more. Recipes, a bibliography, photos you snapped on research trips, character interviews, outtakes from the manuscript, timelines, maps, journals, and more are fair game.
Remember to thank each player who participates in your bonus activities by posting on social media, and don’t forget to encourage them to sign up for your newsletter at the same time!
Reader’s Discussion Guides
Book clubs are HOT. They love finding a set of inspiring discussion questions at the back of a book to use as a springboard once they get together to talk about your book. Publishers recognize the value of reader’s discussion guides and provide them as free downloadable documents on their websites. Teachers ADORE discussion guides to help students with further research and to think deeply about a book. What kind of questions are included in a reading guide? Everything above can be there in some form, but it is generally a list of questions covering the topics, events, themes, etc. in the book.
I offer a self-paced online course to authors, educators, editors, and anyone tasked with putting together a discussion guide for a book. My course delivers seven modules that include worksheets, a progress journal, and an array of ideas for why and how to create an intellectually stimulating book discussion guide. Once an author understands the purpose of a reader’s discussion guide and has the template for it, it’s applicable to any book.
For $197, you can access the course here <insert course logo>
Which of these ideas have you tried? What were the results? Which of these ideas do you think you will try soon?
All good things,